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Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of…
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Why I Write: Thoughts on the Craft of Fiction (1998)

by Will Blythe (Editor)

Other authors: Rick Bass (Contributor), Tom Chiarella (Contributor), Pat Conroy (Contributor), Margaret F. M. Davis (Contributor), Richard Ford (Contributor)22 more, Mary Gaitskill (Contributor), Elizabeth Gilbert (Contributor), Barry Hannah (Contributor), Jim Harrison (Contributor), Amy Hempel (Contributor), Mark Jacobson (Contributor), Darius James (Contributor), Denis Johnson (Contributor), Thom Jones (Contributor), Norman Mailer (Contributor), Terry McMillan (Contributor), Rick Moody (Contributor), Ann Patchett (Contributor), Jayne Anne Phillips (Contributor), Mark Richard (Contributor), James Salter (Contributor), Lee Smith (Contributor), Robert Stone (Contributor), William Vollmann (Contributor), David Foster Wallace (Contributor), Joy Williams (Contributor), Stephen Wright (Contributor)

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Showing 4 of 4
Why I write. Thoughts on the craft of fiction is a collection of 26 fairly short essays in which authors explain why they write. Among the more famous contributors are names such as David Foster Williams, Ann Patchett, Jane Ann Philips, Richard Ford and William Vollmann, etc. According to comments by authors in the essays, the authors were apparently left very freely to decide how to write their essays, while they wereome contributors seem generously paid for their contributions. Some contributors seem to have taken this authorial liberty to the limit and produced some pretty awful postmodern trash. However, most authors provide a neat, short essay explaining their motivations to write. There is also one essay which celebrates the reputation of Alan Gurganus as a creative writing tutor. Interesting for a wide readership. ( )
  edwinbcn | Oct 7, 2016 |
Amazing essays from different writers. Some are brilliant and made me want to look the authors up to see what else they had written. Others are not so interesting but overall this is a great read! ( )
  coffyman | Oct 8, 2010 |
Thoughful and illuminating essays from a variety of writers. While some of the essays are so horribly self-indulgent as to be almost unreadable, most of them are wonderful gems of insight for any serious writer or reader. ( )
  briantomlin | Oct 17, 2009 |
Love, love, love this book. Made me laugh; made me cry. ( )
  foxglove | Feb 9, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Blythe, WillEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bass, RickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chiarella, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Conroy, PatContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Davis, Margaret F. M.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ford, RichardContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gaitskill, MaryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, ElizabethContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hannah, BarryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrison, JimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hempel, AmyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jacobson, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
James, DariusContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DenisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Jones, ThomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mailer, NormanContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
McMillan, TerryContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Moody, RickContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Patchett, AnnContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Phillips, Jayne AnneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Richard, MarkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Salter, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Smith, LeeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stone, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Vollmann, WilliamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wallace, David FosterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Williams, JoyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wright, StephenContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316115924, Paperback)

With the enormous quantity of books on the market purporting to teach us how to write, it is with some relief that someone has thought to pull one together on why writers write. Will Blythe, a contributing editor to Harper's and Mirabella and formerly the literary editor at Esquire, has assembled a fine cast of 26 contemporary fiction writers to muse on his assigned topic, "Why I Write." The reasons, boiled down, range from "Because I can't do anything else" to "Because I can't not write." Ho-hum. But these are fiction writers, don't forget, and fiction writers can spin yarns.

Thom Jones's (The Pugilist at Rest, Cold Snap) formation as a writer began, perhaps, during lunch hours spent drawing sharp-witted comics in the principal's office at a Lutheran elementary school. A promising start at the Iowa writing program dead-ended, seemingly, with drunken night shifts as a school janitor. Only an epiphany involving Wile E. Coyote drew him back to writing. Before long, he'd sold three stories in one afternoon, to Harper's, Esquire, and the New Yorker. "Fiction writers often mature at a glacial pace," says Jones. " I was slower than most."

With apparent effortlessness, Elizabeth Gilbert (Pilgrims) weaves together tales of a cursing cowboy, her grade-school diary, a gawky teenager who aspired to be a magician, and a man whose neighbors had stolen his cat. "Sometimes," says Gilbert modestly, "when we are trying to find a calling, it is helpful to confirm that we are not really very good at anything else." Gilbert, it is clear, has found her calling. And Mark Richard (The Ice at the Bottom of the World, Fishboy) tells a sprawling mini-saga about a "special child" whose life is so full of the elements of good fiction (a scorpion-infested sandbox, a homesick mother, a father who accidentally lit a borrowed bulldozer on fire, a mean tomcat named Mr. Priss, a family friend who got shredded in a silage bin) that you can't imagine him not becoming a fiction writer. Also: Lee Smith, Pat Conroy, David Foster Wallace, Tom Chiarella, Jayne Anne Phillips, and others. --Jane Steinberg

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:04 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

What makes the great American fiction writers tick? Like so many of us, editor Will Blythe was intrigued by the question. His curiosity led him to ask twenty-six of the most exciting and accomplished novelists of our time why they do what they do. To pursue a vocation like fiction writing these days demands an almost religious sense of mission, with little chance of making a living, let alone a fortune; (And yet it sometimes seems there are more fiction writers than readers!) This anthology offers a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the imaginative processes of some of America's best writers.… (more)

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